Life transformed in Ecuador

We are very encouraged by how God transformed the life of an SMU exchange student here with us for 5 months in Ecuador. It is amazing how we met and have this friendship in Christ, and how she started attending Hope Quito. We asked her for permission to share her water baptism testimony on our blog to testify of the transformation power of Jesus in her life.ūüėÄ She was baptised in Ecuador last Sunday before heading back to Singapore in 2 days’ time.¬†

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Shufeng feeling cold in the water

 

Hi Phoebe and Timothy,

Here’s my testimony for tomorrow’s baptism (it can be very concise if you just look at the words in bold):

Then:

1.      I don’t think I was the wildest child around, in fact, I think I was pretty mild by Singapore standards. But as you two have probably observed five months ago, I did not shy from using coarse language. It is true that I came to Ecuador bearing expectations of clubbing and drinking more frequently than I did in Singapore, I was even toying with the idea of trying marijuana if given a chance. In short, I led a pretty God-less life before coming to Ecuador and going to church here and being involved with people from church was the least of my expectations.

2.      I was a Christian even before I came to Ecuador but on hindsight I was more of a closet Christian, very much still in the world and of the world. The message preached by my pastor every Sunday was lost on me once I stepped out of the sanctuary. It seemed that my initial fervency of belief had faded into monotonous ritual and obligation. When my church friend Lynette was away for her exchange, I did not even attend church on Sundays, preferring instead to remain at home and substitute service for a Bible study class on 1 Corinthians every Tuesday night; classes which I attended in a faithless, lethargic spirit.

3.      While I had a Bible then, I read it the way one would read a novel, carelessly; without much thought and reflection, expecting instead some sort of entertainment or instant wisdom. I did not bother with letting the Word effect any sort of transformation in my life, preferring to remain passive about my faith. In fact, apart from going to church on Sundays, my life after receiving Christ (in late 2012) did not differ much from my life before.

Now:

1.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Sometimes I¬†still¬†cannot believe that¬†I¬†am attending church¬†regularly¬†and find myself amazed and¬†amused at how God seems to have chased me home¬†even¬†as I am halfway across the world from Singapore. Definitely my worldview¬†has been¬†significantly¬†changed¬†to the extent that friends¬†who have known me for ten years are insisting they meet up to talk about my¬†‚Äúnew-found‚Ä̬†faith.¬†(Just their surprise¬†itself¬†evidences my obvious¬†neglect of applying the Word in my life before)
I find the little sins that gave me much pleasure before have ceased in their function. The enjoyment of alcohol for one has been dulled, and although one could ascribe it to thehigh altitude, it is probably God’s work. Clubbing is another, what once used to be the pinnacle activity of my social life has been replaced by the desire to instead channel mytime in a more Godly course; even the use of coarse language has been greatly reduced, I find myself extremely conscious of my speech these days because of the stumbling effects unwholesome speech can have on the pre-believing and because the Bible does not condone such irresponsible speech. In summary, it seems that my prior hedonism has been replaced with a healthy fear of God with many previously permissible activities nowdeemed downright dangerous and utterly unwise. And even my literary habits have been changed, surprisingly enough, I came here with two very famous books written by a famous atheist, Ayn Rand, who in her book preachesthe supreme virtue of human reasoning and yet the only books I have been reading areChristian books. It is very funny how God works sometimes.

2.      Although I do miss devotions on some days, I find myself actually wanting to read and meditate upon the Bible each day (I ascribe this change to the blessing that is my friendship with you two!). And the days that I do not are tinged with a sort of deep-seated guilt thatlingers and gnaws upon the periphery of my consciousness. Sometimes I flip through my devotions book just to see pages upon pages of words- reflections, applications, and discourses written in response to the Word- and I just think that God is indeed the God of the impossible. For a lazy Christian whose only reading of the Bible came from listlessly thumbing through the Bible to verses mentioned by the pastor during sermons, this is in many ways, a minor miracle. And I suppose it’s not the mere reading of the Bible that is so significant, it is the thoughtful and intentional application of Biblical precepts in my life that is even more important. These days, I catch myself questioning the righteousness of some of my thoughts, and even policing my speech according to standards that have been enshrined within the Bible; this vigilance of which I clearly lacked before when I led my life carelessly and rather foolishly.

3.      Another change I have noticed (and I hope has been evident) is the greater courage in prayer. I was positively terrified (and I’m not even kidding) of prayer at the start, and although I cannot say I am the most confident during prayer now, I definitely do feel more at ease and open whenever there is communal prayer. Prayer has also led to a greater consideration for God and His Will in my life and my decisions, and I do find myself hesitating before making some decisions, preferring instead to seek God’s direction before taking any action.

Why I want to get baptized:

1.      Acts 8:36
‚Äú‚Ķ‚ÄĚLook, here is water. What¬†can stand in the way of my being baptized?‚ÄĚ
I read this verse the day before Timothy suggested a water baptism during a run. In a way, it must have been the promptings of the Holy Spirit because I remembered asking a question regarding baptism which led to him recommending I give more thought and prayer with regards to getting baptized here. Further reading of Acts brought up repeatedrefrains of the futility of standing in God’s way regarding baptism, impressing upon me further that perhaps this was God speaking to me. In a subsequent run, I asked how we could discern God’s voice from the confusing cacophony of voices we have to contend with daily, and he mentioned the Word to be one of the most reliable channels through which God speaks into our lives. His subsequent affirmation of my interpretation of these verses convinced me that this was the time and place to be baptized if ever there was to be the most opportune time. I must also add that when we came back from Cuenca, I was fully convinced I had missed my baptism chance because it had slipped my mind to prepare for the baptism as I had thought I was going to be baptized alongside the new believers from Pan de Vida. But here we are with the baptism in just a few hours!

2.      1 Timothy 4:11, 15-16
‚Äú‚ĶDon‚Äôt let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech,¬† in¬†conduct,¬†in love, in faith, and in purity.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúBe diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life¬†and doctrine¬†closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.‚ÄĚ
With regards to the conversation we had over lunch, I was indeed quite troubled over my father’s obvious displeasure and lack of support in my decision. I had been hoping he would be mature enough to at least respond to the assurances and promises that I had given over the past months and during the recent whatsapp conversation we had. My negative feelings towards this turn of events did make me question the timing of my water baptism, that perhaps it would be wiser and more prudent to delay getting baptized if my Dad were to exhibit such an hostility towards a baptism now. Having much difficulties intaking a nap this afternoon, I felt compelled to complete my SOAP for the day, an activity I suppose I was wilfully avoiding in light of the emotional tumult within; it was 1 Timothy 6:10 (I think), the reading of which threw up the above verses.
I felt a deep sense of encouragement in reading these verses. Verse 15, which before had spurred me in seeking godliness in the face of my spiritual immaturity, now worked with verse 16 to further strengthen my resolve to get baptized. My concern that perhaps I am changing too much too fast soon faded into a conviction that it is only by creating agreater and unavoidable disparity between the present (and future) and the past that I can show and convince my Dad of the necessity of tomorrow’s baptism, and perhaps even more importantly, point him and my family to the existence of God. Thus, my fears of having to endure potential hurtful criticism from my Dad faded into a determination to use this baptism as the groundwork that would accentuate the transformation that I believe my walk with God would effect in my life.

3.      Sealing a greater commitment to God
I do not wish to be satisfied with any spiritual progress made in the past five months. Hence,tomorrow’s water baptism signifies to me a greater commitment to God. I wish to wash away those half-hearted cell group sessions and spiritually-absent sermons of the past andinstead to be filled with a greater desire to continue what He has set in motion the past months. It is with this objective that my hopes for 2014 are as follows below.

My hopes for the future (starting with 2014):

(These have been shared last Sunday during Claudia’s teaching)

1.      To trust God more and to purposefully seek His Will and guidance

2.      To be jealous of QT time and not let the demands of living in this world rob me of time spent in meditation and being in His presence
(To be a better steward of my time and to channel it for His purposes)

3.      To devote more of myself and my resources to knowing God and serving Him

Okay, that’s all.

See you both tomorrow!

SF

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